Just Nuke It

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With your on-the-go schedule, time is of the essence when you need to rustle up some grub. Fortunately, you can make a quick, healthy meal using your microwave. Just follow these tips from Boston Celtics nutritionist Joan Buchbinder.

Read before you eat
Scope out the nutrition label before you zap a frozen meal, because what you see isn't always what you get. "People often glance at the calories and fat grams and assume that the numbers represent the nutritional value of the entire package of food," Buchbinder says.

Not necessarily.

Consider this: a chicken pot pie can have 500 calories per serving, but the frozen meal might actually contain two servings, so if you eat the entire package, you just downed 1,000 calories. On the other hand, some frozen meals can be as low as 160 calories, which is comparable to six ounces of yogurt.

Bottom line: reading a label helps with portion control. Here's what to aim for in a frozen meal:
Calories: 300-400
Protein: 10g
Fat: no more than 3g per 100 calories
Sodium: less than 600mg
Fiber: at least 4g

More, more, more
You need to fuel your muscles with adequate carbs for sustained energy during training and competition. Most frozen meals, however, don't include enough quality carbs. Buchbinder says you can easily compensate by adding a cup of frozen gnocchi (potato-filled pasta) with a half-cup of marinara sauce. Frozen breakfast products are also excellent nontraditional options. Try pancakes, waffles or French toast.

In addition, many frozen entrées skimp on veggies, so include a half-cup to a cup of frozen broccoli, cauliflower, corn, green beans or carrots. You can also microwave a potato in about five minutes.

Shake it up
Protein is another needed nutrient that tends to be insufficient in frozen meals. "Athletes require high quality protein to repair and develop muscle mass," Buchbinder says.

Two zap-free but still quick and convenient options are a protein shake, which can be especially beneficial if you struggle to meet your daily caloric needs, or eight ounces of low-fat milk.

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